Commitment to better healthcare

12:08 | 10/06/2019
British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical, AstraZeneca, has recently announced a stellar $220 million investment in Vietnam. Nitin Kapoor, company president of AstraZeneca in Vietnam, shared with VIR’s Tuan Khanh the strategic objectives of this investment and how it will tie into the company’s activities in Vietnam.
commitment to better healthcare
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visiting AstraZeneca’s facility in Sweden

AstraZeneca has announced an investment of $220 ­million in Vietnam. What objectives do you have in mind with this investment?

commitment to better healthcare
Nitin Kapoor, company president of AstraZeneca in Vietnam

With this investment, ­AstraZeneca will focus on three key areas in the next five years including local healthcare capacity, research and development, and talent development.

As part of our commitment to developing Vietnam’s healthcare capacity, we will be working with our partners to implement the Young Health Programme, our global community investment programme focusing on youth and the prevention of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease by addressing risk factors surrounding them. Another part of the investment will be spent to advance our collaboration on research and innovation. We are committed to be a great place to work in Vietnam, by developing over 500 skilled jobs to support these accelerated efforts and ensure a future pipeline of talent and innovative medicine.

This investment will expand our footprint, and bring our global scientific innovation together with our partners, to address the prevalent needs of the fight against NCDs in Vietnam.

With an ambition to be the leading bio-pharma company in reducing the ­prevalence of NCDs, is it enough to collaborate with external partners to raise awareness, or does ­AstraZeneca have other ­initiatives in order to do this?

It will take more than medicines alone to tackle NCDs. Therefore, we are excited to explore additional collaborations with external partners, aligning with the government’s priorities in improving health management over NCDs in Vietnam.

According to the National Report on Vietnamese Youth conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs – United Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2015, young Vietnamese today make up one quarter of the country’s population, and the period of adolescence is pivotal in reducing NCDs and maximising health across all stages of life. Hence, we collaborate with Plan International Vietnam to bring this award-winning disease prevention programme to Vietnam, aiming to enhance prevention and reduction of NCD risk behaviours at young people, ensure that they have increased knowledge about NCDs risk behaviours and have a healthy lifestyle.

Globally, the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme has reached more than three million youth in more than 24 countries across six continents since it was launched in 2010. In Vietnam, it is planned to reach more than 46,000 youth directly with health information and NCD prevention programming in primary and secondary schools, universities, and with youth working in industrial zones. Indirectly, it is expected to reach an additional 100,000 beneficiaries in the wider community through awareness raising activities.

In Vietnam’s healthcare system, healthcare professionals are suffering from work overload. Would the enhancement of local healthcare capacity – one of the key three commitments in the $220 million investment – address this issue?

AstraZeneca will continue to invest in training and improving the capacity of Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) at primary care or grassroots levels to increase early diagnosis and provide the right treatment for patients. We can take Healthy Lung for example. Through our collaboration with institutional partners, the programme will support capability-building (diagnosis, treatment, and management) for grassroots-level health staff in provinces and districts nationwide to better manage asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). By providing continuous medical training sessions and up-to-date medical information, the programme aims to hit its goal of having 80 per cent of full-time medical staff in established units trained and certified. Since its launch in 2017, the programme has provided trainings to 100 HCPs and 25 scientific exchanges for more than 2,500 HCPs.

The investment announcement was witnessed by ­Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. What commitments did you make to the prime minister about AstraZeneca’s responsibility to the Vietnamese community and healthcare industry?

Over the last 25 years in Vietnam, we have noticed a significant shift and positive change in Vietnam’s healthcare policy. We have hence decided to expand our presence in Vietnam to bring our experience in scientific innovation to help the country accelerate the development of its health capacity.

With this investment, we can further strengthen our partnerships and support the development of innovative solutions to better address local healthcare challenges in NCDs, such as oncology, and ­cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which have a high prevalence in Vietnam. To support these initiatives, we will further train talents across the fields of ­biomedical sciences and medicine, as well as in sales and marketing with the help of our partners.

As a leading pharmaceutical company, we will continue to contribute our expertise and knowledge to scale up the Vietnamese healthcare industry amidst the country’s ongoing global integration.

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